Worried about the #indyref polls? Read this.

I’ve seen a number of people worry about the newest Survation poll, which has Yes behind No by 6 points, no change on their last poll.

There is no need to worry about any individual poll.

A typical opinion poll surveys around 1000 people.

If those 1000 people were chosen with perfect randomness from among all of Scotland, and were all honest, there would be 19-1 odds of the real gap being within 6 points either way of the numbers reported by the polling company.

So if Survation say there is a 47% Yes, 53% No, what they mean is that there is probably 44% – 50% Yes and 50% – 56% No.

A lot of things can go wrong with polls. People lie to polling companies. The limited panels some polling companies use may not reflect the country accurately.

Survation, ICM, YouGov and Panelbase all use volunteer internet panels. ICM and YouGov both probably have far larger numbers of volunteers than Panelbase and Survation, which makes it easier for them to reflect the real population.

TNS and Ipsos Mori are especially interesting, because TNS door-knock and Ipsos Mori phone landlines.

When you take into account the uncertainty, this 6% No lead is really just a neck-and-neck poll the same as YouGov’s 2% Yes lead, TNS’s dead heat, and Panelbase’s 4% No lead.

Polls will go up and down. All that is left for Yessers to do now is door-knock, leaflet, run stalls – anything and everything to persuade people and turn them out to vote on the day. If you can, make sure you register with your local Yes group to do Get Out the Vote on polling day.

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  1. October 30th, 2014
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